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Making safety a priority for private-hire car services in Singapore

Are private-hire car services turning a blind eye to safety?

Azra Rauff
Azra Rauff

Published: 7 October 2016, 2:54 PM

Despite increased popularity of private-hire car services in Singapore, those interested in joining the industry as drivers may face stricter regulations in time to come.

What’s going on?

After the recent fatal incident involving an Uber driver crashing into a lorry, questions were raised as to whether private-hire car services such as Uber and Grab are safe travel options.

Private-hire car services do not provide their drivers with any form of formal training, unlike taxi companies that make their drivers go through a compulsory 25 hour programme.

The classroom and self-study programme by the taxi academy covers topics such as route knowledge and rules and regulations. This is to ensure road safety among cabbies.

To add on to that, many netizens have said that drivers from private-hire car services are as young as 21, and therefore inexperienced on the roads compared to cabbies who are usually above 30.

From next year onwards, it will be compulsory for private-hire car service drivers to go through a mandatory 10-hour course, as well as medical checks and background screenings to ensure the safety of passengers.

Some youths agreed with this move. Muhammad Khaliq, 23, is one of them.

The air steward said: “No matter what the situation, safety is always a priority. I think that implementing classes and conducting checks would ensure drivers are safer on roads. It’ll probably also make them take their jobs more seriously.”

 

Some netzens agreed that safety standards should be consistent in the industry.

 

However, some feel there are already sufficient checks and balances within the private-hire car service companies. This comes in the wake of Uber suspending a driver for drunk driving last month.

Jennifer Soh, a second year student from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, felt that extra regulations were unnecessary.

The 19-year-old said: “I use Uber about three times a week and I can’t remember having a bad experience. The drivers are friendly and decently safe on the roads. I think the fatal incident involving the Uber driver was more of a one-off thing and it was just blown up by the media.”

 

This netizen felt that cabbies were not safe on roads, despite having classes.
Photo credits: The Straits Times Facebook

 

Many Singaporeans have noted that more road accidents involve taxi drivers as compared to private-hire car drivers. While this could mean the mandatory classes have not been useful, it could also be due to the minimum mileage of 250km cabbies need to cover daily.

Part-time Grab driver, Imran Ishak felt the new implementations would only act as a barrier for people who are keen on working for private-hire car services.

The 22-year-old, who is taking a part-time diploma, said: “People say I’m a young driver but I haven’t been involved in any road accidents since I started driving.”

“Having checks and classes would only become a hurdle for people who want to be drivers. I believe that at the end of the day, it comes down to the way people want to drive on roads. If you’re reckless, obviously you’ll pay a price for it.”

What’s your take?

1. Have you encountered drivers from private-hire cars who made you feel unsafe? Share with us your experience.
2. Do you think that private-hire car drivers should attend mandatory classes? Why?
3. What else can be done to ensure drivers of private-hire car services are safe on roads?

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